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I found The Solutions Project to be very impressive with the work it does to support and accelerate the clean energy movement. Equally as important, I found the website to be incredibly well laid out and informative. It is aesthetically pleasing, smooth, and organized in a very effective way. I like that the first sub header on the main page is The Solutions Project vision. This is a very important way to introduce people to the project because without knowing the organizations goals off the bat, the other information on the page isn't as easily understood in context. The Solutions Project direct approach to accelerating the clean energy movement is providing grants to companies that fit its definition of "good". So its really important that The Solutions Project and those who interact with it have well defined goals of what types of companies deserve grants. One part of The Solutions Project's website that I found informative both for learning about the organizations values as well as the big picture of the clean energy movement was The Solutions Project's analysis of the clean energy narrative. This analysis really shows the problems that The Solutions Project sees with the current media narratives, which are largely focused around how certain groups of people are omitted from the narrative.

The article I chose to read was "How Do We Pay for a Zero-Emissions Economy". I really liked the tone of the article because I found it to be largely positive and solution focused.

"Purely in terms of the financing issues involved, it is an entirely reasonable and not especially difficult proposition to build a zero-emissions U.S. economy by 2050."

The article argues that a zero-emissions economy will require an increase in energy efficiency coupled with an increase in clean energy supply. It focuses specifically on how public spending and private spending will both be required, and the public spending is very related to ideas we've discussed in class. The article does not at all argue that this zero-emission economy is just going to happen via the invisible hand. Instead its going to require subsidies and guaranteed loans for investors who wish to invest in renewables. Though guaranteed loans naturally pose a level of risk, the article argues that the positives from renewable investment trends will outweigh the costs.

"This clean-energy investment project will pay for itself in full over time because it will deliver lower energy costs for all U.S. energy consumers."

The quote from the article is very important. For me, this makes me think about how the large scale and the small scale behave very similar. For example, if I owned a house and wished to convert to completely to self owned solar energy, it would cost capital to buy the technology and have it set up. If I stayed with paying my city for energy, I wouldn't have to pay these capital expenditures. However, I would have to pay monthly payments, and at some point these payments will cost more than if I had invested in 100% solar. However, a big issue for most people is cash flow. This is the same for companies. They know that in the long run it would be cost effective to own all of their energy, but cash flow is important and they have to make decisions about where to spend the limited cash they have at a given point of time. Public subsidies and other incentives could help with this issue and push companies who are on the ledge into renewable energy.

Christopher Watt

The solutions project is really interesting! I love their mission to both push a shift to %100 clean energy and give a space for groups who are not as often considered at the front of the climate debate and renewable energy push. I did some exploring on the website and found their interactive map on what a shift to renewable energy could look like in major US cities. I was particularly interested to look at Atlanta, the capital of my home state. There vision for Atlanta includes a 52% decline in energy use with renewables and the saving of almost $6 Billion in healthcare. I am curious about how they calculated all of their estimates, but I appreciate how clear cut their vision is and initiative to make it happen! Here's the example from Atlanta...shares a lot of information: https://thesolutionsproject.org/why-clean-energy/#/map/cities/location/Atlanta . Considering my question in the last blog post about transitioning fossil fuel works to jobs in renewable energy, the solutions project also points out opportunities for job creation in construction and energy operation that will result from the shift. There is definitely a lot of opportunity!

I chose to read the article by Jeffrey Sachs called "Getting to a Carbon Free Economy." What I appreciated about his article, especially coming from a big name in the economics world, is how clear he is about both the opportunities and challenges for transitioning toward a carbon free economy. He points out low hanging fruit, such as shifting vehicles to renewable energy, while laying out a timeline for how that will be done and the challenges that will face these major shifts. He writes, "The least-cost solution in each case is to retire the existing capital at the end of its normal life and replace it with zero-carbon capital." He both acknowledges the challenges of shifting entire industries and phasing out the older capital, and illustrates how this MUST be done to meet the goals of climate treaties. He is also very clear about where we need greater research and innovation to combat perspectives that say this energy shift is too big or too hard; rather, it is duable with more thought and we need to start acting now and figuring out some of the bigger challenges after we make it over the smaller hurdles. For example, though time and scale of transitioning cars will not be "easy," we know how it can be done, and are beginning that process. Figuring out how to power long distance air travel is much more challenging, but we can and will figure it out and MUST do so for the wellbeing of our planet and growth in the economy.

Didi Pace

Programs like The Solutions Project are essential to a transition to clean energy. The ‘grants’ section of the site reminded me of the research I did on Sub-Saharan Africa in Sustainable Development last spring term. Sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest potential for generation of solar and photovoltaic energy. Yet, SSA is facing widespread energy shortages and has the lowest energy generation capacity of any region. SSA struggles to reach their energy potential primarily due to a lack of funding. If more projects like this invest in SSA, energy potential can be reached and the returns on investment would be high!

I read the article called “The Global Challenge of Decarbonization”.
I was surprised to read that Kenya leads the world in clean energy use. Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change, with the majority of the population relying on the land for subsistence and economic activity. Africa is also the lowest contributor of global emissions, yet one of its countries leads the WORLD in clean energy use ahead of all the major emitters? From an equity stand point, this doesn't seem right to me.

The article also notes that one of the most successful decarbonization projects among developed nations was in Sweden. In 1991, they were charging $110/ton of carbon. Now the carbon tax is up to $500/ton. Emissions have been reduced threefold since the 1970s, while median income in the country has doubled. This goes to show that decarbonizing the economy does not have to come at the cost of economic growth...


I have always thought of nuclear power as an essential part of the equation to reduce emissions in the United States and around the world. A few years ago, I watched a documentary called “Pandora’s Promise”. The film argued that nuclear power is a clean and safe energy source which is one of our best tools in the fight against climate change. The film stated that wind and solar alone is not a realistic way to achieve 0 carbon emissions and that if you were not pro nuclear, you were pro fossil fuels. I generally agreed with the points made in the film and I entered this class still holding these beliefs. “The Tantalizing Nuclear Mirage” by Alexander Sammon challenges my previously held view point. He argues that due to the large timeframe needed to construct nuclear power plants and the dependence on water for cooling, additional nuclear power plants should not be touted as the future for green energy. However, he does not discuss what to do with current facilities or how new technologies such as small modular reactors could play a role in the future. While traditional designs for nuclear plants take over 10 years and government subsidies to complete, many new technologies are much cheaper and quicker to construct. The MIT technology review recently outlined 3 reasons for renewed hope for nuclear power in a recent article, such as advanced fission, fusion, and small modular reactors. While nuclear isn’t perfect, I do not think that the GND should cast nuclear aside as I believe that innovation and technological progress will develop advanced and viable nuclear technologies in the near future.

TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak

Phillips, Leigh. “The New, Safer Nuclear Reactors That Might Help Stop Climate Change.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 27 Feb. 2019, www.technologyreview.com/2019/02/27/136920/the-new-safer-nuclear-reactors-that-might-help-stop-climate-change/.

Sammon, Alexander. “The Tantalizing Nuclear Mirage.” The American Prospect, 5 Dec. 2019, prospect.org/greennewdeal/the-tantalizing-nuclear-mirage/.

“Why I Changed My Mind about Nuclear Power | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxBerlin.” YouTube, Ted Talks, 17 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak.

Sammon, Alexander. “The Tantalizing Nuclear Mirage.” The American Prospect, 5 Dec. 2019, prospect.org/greennewdeal/the-tantalizing-nuclear-mirage/.

Max Gebauer

I read a piece covering the massive decreases seen in investigations, punishments, and enforcement against superfund sites for polluting primarily marginalized communities across the country. A question I found myself repeatedly asking was how could any president or high level cabinet official be so willing to blatantly harm communities to the tune of billions of dollars, countless lives, and negative health outcomes. Of all places, a potential came to me from our reading from the Kahn textbook chapter on forestry management, namely, that the current system where the length of land leases is so short that It encouragers short term thinking and over harvesting that doesn't actually maximize production in the long term. The key part being the apparent mismatch in time frame. In the case of enforcement of pollution regulations, a president or cabinet official is only in office for 8 years at the absolute most, usually less, yet the full costs of them allowing more unchecked pollution often aren't felt or even officially studied and mapped until a decade or so later. Officials seemingly have a perverse short-term incentive to allow behavior that is inefficient in the long run that allows serious costs to be placed disproportionately on marginalized groups. In many ways I'd love to see the EPA become a (somewhat) more independent arm of the government that functions with a level of independence closer to that of the Fed (probably not that much) so that their enforcement of existing law isn't as subject to the ever-changing whims of the executive. The EPA effectively enforcing infractions of environmental protection laws shouldnt be decided on a whim.

Steven Black

The maps from the Solutions Project of projected energy sources in 2050 by state, city, and country were very interesting to look at. I was surprised to see that they had the Netherlands projected to obtain no energy from waves and tides. When I was in Amsterdam last year, it seemed like the Dutch were doing some really cool research with tidal and wave energy so I would have expected it to have some future in their energy portfolio.

I chose to read the article "Getting to a Carbon-Free Economy" by Jeffrey Sachs because I have read some of his papers before in other classes and have generally enjoyed them. He brought up some interesting points about reaching net-zero carbon emissions in the United States that I had not thought about. The first was with electric vehicles. It seems like we have been making tremendous progress with making electric vehicles affordable and convenient, but I did not think about how long it would take to replace every car in the US with an electric vehicle. Examples like this justify in my mind why it would take the US a full 30 years to reach net-zero carbon emissions.
It was a little surprising to see an economics paper get so politicals, but Sachs brought up some great points about the political feasibility of the Green New Deal. Last time, we talked about the bill's lack of a concrete plan to start a conversation, but Sach's example of the Interstate Highway Act makes it seem like the bill was destined to fail in Congress. It is understandable that a bill needs a specific plan so members of Congress can see exactly how it would benefit their districts, thus making it much easier to justify the costs. Additionally, it is beneficial to have concrete actions in place that the public can rally behind and motivate Congress to take action. Overall, Sachs made the need to take action against climate change sound very critical but also left a good bit of room for hope that this is a crisis that we can overcome, which I appreciated as many climate change authors make their paper rather depressing to read.

Nikki Doherty

The research done by the Solutions Project is so important, and I am impressed by their strong commitment to both climate change technology and the people who climate change effects most. As simple as it may be, I was first drawn the page’s main quote: “A world powered by the wind, water, and sun is not only possible – it’s already happening.” Although this seems obvious to us, many others may not be aware or might not truly believe we have the potential to make the transitions. This is the message we need to keep sending out. I believe that a lot of people might think that things like the Great New Deal will lead to extreme changes in our lifestyle because they do not realize that changes are possible without an overhaul or without loss. Looking at their interactive map regarding the shift was particularly interesting. It is so beneficial that they can project the number of jobs that this change can create, in a given city. The micro-level data makes the possibility feel so much more real. Further, the health cost savings provides a lot of context for what the benefit of the transition would be. For Boston, where I am from, the transition would pay for itself in as little as 3.9 years from air pollution and climate cost savings alone. Considering that figure along with the jobs created and other economic related benefits is encouraging. On an individual level, we can save $6,485 in energy, health, and climate costs per person. I am interested in how this figure was calculated, as I believe it could be even higher. How can you put a price on detrimental health consequences, pollution related illnesses certainly cost more than just treatment? Moreover, how can you put a price on the prevalence rainfall or natural disasters at an individual level? Some insight into what was used in these calculations would be interesting. Lastly, it is interesting how these figures change with geography. For example, individuals in Greensburg are projected to save more than double per person than individuals in Boston (in terms of energy, health, and climate costs). It would be interesting to compile these cost savings per person figures by city and compare with average city wealth (or other city characteristics).

I chose to read “Healing Waters” by Judith Schwartz. The essay begins with a discussion of toxic, or tainted water and the health consequences it has for the community who drinks it. I have heard of the water crisis in Flint, but was surprised that similar stories exist in Vermont, New York, and New Jersey. She then moves to natural disasters related to waters, and the emergencies that are clearly a product of climate change. Moreover, spills, run-off, and overdevelopment are more directly man-caused water-related crises. She uses these similar stories to demonstrate that we are directly depleting and distorting the resource we arguably need the most. Water is the basis of our own health (needed for hydration), the basis of our food supply, and the basis of our ecosystem. She describes the Great New Deal as the way to heal and renew our current “broken relationship” with water. I enjoyed the intimate approach she took in telling this story, creating responsiveness. Putting human feelings and needs into conversations about climate change is impactful. We began our semester learning about “existence value” that places have, for example the Grand Canyon… but this essay motivates so much more than “existence value.” It creates both a “need value” and "inherent value" that seem almost spiritual. We are connected and dependent on water, and we are mistreating and devaluing it. I was surprised to read that a river in New Zealand and in India legitimately have personhood rights, and the people of Toledo are the legal guardians of the lake. Clearly, people are beginning to see water as something we must protect and give back to, which is encouraging. Once changing our current relationship with water to one that recognizes its rights and its “personhood,” then we can start to become “allies” with it as she suggests. This is a really interesting perspective. I have never studied “natural hydrological cooling processes” but it seems like a great way to use current climate changes to our advantage, even to reverse climate change’s consequences like heating. Here is a discussion from a group of farmers in Australia that gives a breakdown about it and how it might reverse climate change: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/d6b81fb6/files/uploaded/2017%20-%20Restoring%20water%20cycles.pdf. Complex, but valuable.

Margot McConnell

Back when I did the project on investing for the sustainable development class, I came across this organization. The plan that Mark Jacobson has come up with completely lays out how we could go about converting to sustainable energy. He lays out one for each country, and it is truly incredible that he has such a reasonable plan. Also, the pay-off that these renewable energy sources can provide in the long run is truly insane to me. The Bloomberg article linked below is a good summary of what Jacobson is laying out in his plan.
One of the things I constantly find sad and frustrating about climate change among the fact that switching to more renewable energy sources can be economically a better idea is the injustice that we always discuss in class. Therefore, I decided to read the paper “Toxic Injustices” by Derrick Jackson. One thing that the paper mentioned in relation to the Green New Deal is how advocates for it argue that environmental destruction results in racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices. This is the point that people never see or can wrap their heads around. People in the government are more concerned with protecting the coal industry for example because they want to “create jobs.” However, they are not considering that the people in the job are exposed to the risk and that in addition the community is also exposed to these dangers. It just seems like there is no concern for public health. Yes, jobs are important. However, if we switch to other forms of energy, Jacobson even shows how those jobs can be converted into jobs in a renewable energy sector. I know the job issue obviously is complex, but at the end of the day as we are seeing with COVID-19 pandemic, public health should be a priority. If people are healthy, they will be able to work. If people are suffering from chronic lung disease because of pollution, they will struggle to work. This article really opened my eyes even more and is something everyone should read because it shows a real life situation and a REAL perspective. People are not making this up!

Lauren Paolano

Transitioning to 100% to Wind, Water, Solar sounds incredible, but my first thoughts are, can that actually be possible to implement, and if so, how far in the future can we expect this change to be a reality? One fact I found very interesting while reading their analysis on their website, “Percentage of clean energy news articles quoting women doubled in 2019 compared to 2018. Women were quoted in 42% of clean energy articles in 2019, up from 21% the year before.” Promoting women’s education and further enhancing and motivating them to become a part of such important movements around the world is extremely significant. Women have a strong and powerful voice and I think what The Solutions Project is doing will be very effective and hopefully impactful to our nation and beyond.

The Solutions Project saw many voices after the Green New Deal failed to pass the senate and wanted to understand how the media hears and reflects those voices. The Solutions Project also noted that the voices quoted in the media did not include the diversity of the U.S. as a whole, especially the low-income communities and communities of color. We have been discussing this matter recently in class, in which the susceptible communities and individuals who are most affected by climate crises. Because they experience the effects first hand, they have creative solutions that have continued to be unheard and unnoticed, until The Solutions Project began.

It makes logical sense to me to include the voices of the people who are being most affected by these harmful impacts, and I honestly don’t know why this hasn’t happened sooner! I think it is an incredible idea to listen to the people who have experienced the issues instead of listening to people who have never seen or felt the harmful impacts of global warming. The fight to stand for clean, renewable energy for everyone is a simple, yet extremely powerful stance that I hope can inspire society.

Giddings Harrison

After reading the GND, I was curious how we would actually reach some of the objectives. It seems that many would agree in objectives of the GND: achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through "a fair and just transition for all communities and workers" or creating millions of jobs that "ensure economic prosperity and economic security." However, the disagreement seems to arise when we discuss how to achieve these goals. I found the Solutions Project particularly helpful in providing clear steps that we need to take in order to be carbon neutral by 2050. While many focus on the cost of shifting to a carbon neutral economy, this project demonstrates the savings that the country could see if we adopt there plan. For instance, the Solutions Project claims Americans could save $9,612 per person per year if we were to adopt the energy mix the project suggests. While I found these savings promising, I would like to understand a little more how they found these numbers and if there is a range of savings projected given different scenarios.

I found "Getting to a Carbon-Free Economy" to be very helpful as it addressed many questions that I have myself: how do you transition America's fleet of planes to be carbon-neutral? what about cars? houses? buildings? This article gave a good glance into the process as it provided the technical process of switching to carbon neutral. For instance it explained that retrofitting older buildings will be a longer, more expensive process than electrifying new buildings. The article also provided the least cost solution for retiring existing capital at the end of its life span. For instance, once all new vehicles on the market are zero-emission vehicles, then over the next 15-20 there would be a shift to zero-emission vehicles. While this least cost solution takes a longer time, it ultimately prevents a major boom and bust in the market. This solution allows gradual changes to occur to reach the goals of the GND. It prioritizes both the health of the environment and the economy.

Sydney Goldstein

The Solutions Project piece was overall very positive and encouraging. Their website talked about how their goal was to track media coverage on renewable energy resources (WWS). The trends they’ve noticed since 2018 is that discussion seems to be mostly positive, with the conversation on the GND and clean energy continuing to be in the spotlight. The continuance of the GND’s prominence shows that there may be changing attitudes towards the environment and the issues it’s facing. I think the one downfall of the Solutions Project is that it is also trying to relate equity to environmental issues. As we know in this class, poverty, race, and environmental issues are all very intertwined, but I think that the average American does not view it that way. I believe there are many Americans who view inequality and environmental issues as being completely separate, even though this is not the reality. For this reason, I believe both GND and interest groups such as Solutions project should keep the issues separate, at least in official wording. Even though a program that taxes pollution may end up taxing the rich (who pollute more) at higher rates than the poor I think it should just be framed as carbon pricing (not even tax, since that has become a stigmatized word) rather than an equalizer between the rich and the poor. When too many issues get piled together, the right seems to interpret that as “crackpot leftists, trying to change the way we live”. Since it is the right that mainly needs convincing on the importance of clean energy, it is important, I think, to frame the legislation in a way that convinces them to support it. Thus, including buzz words like equality between social classes which could be skewed to look like some sort of socialist agenda should be kept out of the language of a bill or even resolution.

The second piece I read was called “Making Public Works Work”. It talked about how public infrastructure in the US is severely lacking and poorly managed. It further discussed how the GND could help better US infrastructure, create new jobs, and act as a stimulator to the US economy in a manner similar to the New Deal. What I found interesting is that in its discussion of how the US lacks a capacity and national purpose in public infrastructure, the one cited exception was the long-term planning and financing of the 1950s National Interstate Highway system, which was constructed, in part, as a section of national defense. The official reasons for construction were that it would, “eliminate unsafe roads, inefficient routes, traffic jams and all of the other things that got in the way of ‘speedy, safe transcontinental travel,’” and that, “in case of atomic attack on our key cities, the road net [would] permit quick evacuation of target areas.” This reminded me of Wednesday's discussion where we talked about how it might be effective to frame global warming as a national security threat and use the defense sector to combat it. It does seem that the defense sector is the best at getting public projects accomplished. This was something that caught my attention Wednesday, and in this article, so I started looking into whether the defense sector was doing anything related to global warming in connection to it being a national security threat. While nothing official seems to exist, there are interest groups who are creating a framework for why global warming is a national security threat and how it directly impacts the effectiveness of the military. One such group is the Climate Reality Project. Some of the things they discussed were how changing weather patterns impact naval vessels and aircraft’s ability to be deployed. The article includes other much complicated arguments such as how climate change relates to our conflict with Syria or how it relates to our alliance with Nigeria since Nigeria is struggling against rising sea levels. If you have a few spare moments, it’s definitely an interesting read that lays out how climate change can impact the US in ways many people haven’t even considered.

Climate Reality Project: https://climaterealityproject.org/blog/climate-crisis-threat-national-security

Maisie Strawn

I was impressed by the Solutions Project website and their mission. Science communication, in many ways, is actually as important as the science itself, and the Solutions Project does it really well. The map of the 100% Clean Energy Vision was clear and easy to use, and the automatically generated graphics at the country, state, and city were excellently done: simple, clear, and concise. They seem to understand that most people have no interest in reading a long article, and often spend only seconds viewing something. They’ve figured out how to convey their message in only a couple of scrolls, which I think is really powerful.

From the American Prospect website, I read the article entitled, “The Green New Deal as Economic Development.” This article focused on three key areas: job creation, job loss and just transitions, and fixing communities. Overall, I thought the article was important because something like the Green New Deal will likely never be politically feasible unless it's sold as economic development, job creation, and infrastructure improvement. The job creation section of the article really focused on construction and construction workers, which was interesting to me as my dad has worked in the construction industry almost his entire career. The author talked about the role unions could play in the Green New Deal, but didn’t really address in any depth the fact many states especially in the South are “right-to-work” states where unions don’t really hold much power. I guess the implication is that the GND would solve this problem. The article also talked about having a “Superfund for workers” who lose their jobs during the transition to clean energy, which I thought was interesting and really important. I think that the “Superfund” could also look like free job training and not just wages and benefits until they find comparable work.


The Solutions Project website seems to have a very comprehensive review of all the benefits to clean energy and some sizable accomplishments towards the goal. Oftentimes I find myself frustrated after reading about the benefits of clean energy or programs to make the switch to clean energy easier for businesses and individuals. I find myself thinking "why haven't we done this everywhere?" after reading about all of the social and economic benefits that have been created by a conversion to clean energy.
I read the article about cities being the frontlines for green energy. I agree with the idea that cities will be the frontlines for notable advancements in green technology, but there is a barrier when it comes to funding. Federal money is needed in order for cities to make changes that will, ultimately, be beneficial in the long run - most upfront costs will pay for themselves over the course of a few years.
In New York City, energy efficiency is at the frontlines of their Green New Deal plan. I began thinking through this plan and the feasibility of it being implemented nationally. The most important part of this plan is the collaborative nature; I think this is something that could be achieved on a national level if there is an incentive for everyone. One of the coolest things about this plan was that buildings must display an energy efficiency grade from A to F. This is similar to something mentioned in class in terms of energy consumption; households can see where they stand on energy usage in compression to the rest of their neighborhood. If something if going to be posted in your building, I would hope that you would strive for the highest rating possible. This could also aid consumers in being more selective about who they give their business to if energy efficiency is something they value.
I also think success has been had in NYC, Boulder, and Seattle because of the requirements placed on building owners. To make something finable is probably the best incentive for changing one's behavior.

Allie Case

I thought reading Jay Inslee’s piece “How States Are Leading on Climate Action” would make for a good pairing with looking at the individual states on The Solutions Project interactive map. I liked this quote the most from Inslee’s article: “Leadership may be lacking in the U.S. federal government, but when the world thinks of the U.S. on climate action, they should think of the states.” In connection to the Green New Deal discussion from Wednesday, I do think there is a way to find the middle ground between the state and federal government combatting climate change. If individual constituents were able to focus on specific interests to their state it might gain more traction in Congress. Also, in connection to COVID, Inslee’s words about the power of states working together reminds me of how those on the coasts and the midwest are working together as to when they will reopen their economies- this makes me hopeful that we’re seeing action that goes against the federal administration. Just on Thursday Minnesota announced that it is working with six other states about when to start scaling back isolation measures. I was really surprised looking at Minnesota’s numbers for just how high the number was for wind energy versus solar energy on The Solutions Project interactive map. Even more surprising was that nearly 20% of the wind energy portfolio was from offshore wind energy. Turns out I knew very little about Minnesota’s energy production- we generate over 17% of the state’s electricity from wind power according to the DOE’s Wind Market Report and rank 7th among the states. I had a harder time finding any information about the potential for more offshore wind farming in MN- although if the idea is that it is based in lakes that would pose many environmental and recreational objections. The wind turbines currently in place are in very rural communities that are seeing the benefits- however having these turbines in bodies of water around the state may pose as a large obstacle.


Noah Gallagher

I read Mara Printiss's "The Technical Path to Zero Carbon", which was a lot more optimistic than I had expected it to be. The premise is that we have come a long way in our green technologies and have become substantially more efficient. Enough so that we are well on the path to zero carbon - at least from a technical perspective, less so from a socio-economic perspective. There are some technical hurdles to be made, such as improving or replacing lithium-ion batteries that appear essential to the zero carbon goal.

One interesting thing that I keep seeing are companies that promise to become net-zero by 2040 or 2050. Shell is the most recent example that I can think of. They're promising carbon capture, but there appears to be criticism (from Greenpeace in the article) that they are not committing to reduce their use of fossil fuels, only committing to offset them. I also find it hard to imagine that a 2050 timeframe is soon enough to make a substantial difference.


Natalie Burden

I think one of the most important questions to be able to answer when having a discussion about the transition to zero-emissions is how to pay for the upfront costs. Politics aside, most reasonable people could be able to see that a transition to zero-emissions would pay for itself quickly, but what many people have more trouble with is the question of where we should get the money from. I read the following paper by Robert Pollin (2019) on the variety of sources for this funding that seem perfectly reasonable to me.
I think some sources of funding are much more obvious than we realize. For example, $50 billion goes toward the nuclear weapons development budget every year. Pollin proposed a 50% cut in that budget because nuclear weapons would destroy life on earth if put to use, and because nuclear weapons are hopefully never used anyway, why spend so much money on their development in the first place? That would mean $25 billion each year going toward saving the world instead of destroying it. He also suggested Federal Reserve Green Bond funding, where governments could issue long-term zero-interest-rate Green Bonds, purchased by they Fed. Pollin had proposed $50 billion-worth of these, but I think they could afford to do more. As the Fed demonstrated both during the 2008 financial crisis and more recently during this pandemic, there is much more money at our government’s disposal to pay for upfront costs. Pollin mentioned a 2017 study that estimated that “within the first few years following the onset of the [2008] crisis, the government committed approximately $12.2 trillion to stop the crash of the financial system, stabilize the economy, and try to spur economic growth.” To put that into perspective, Pollin’s estimate of the cost of the transition to zero-emissions was $18 trillion over the course of 30 years (not much more money, and over a much longer time period). The government will probably be paying even more over the next few months/years in the Covid-19 recovery. What this tells us is that we don’t need to look that hard to find the money to pay for a zero-emissions transition. What we do need is for the government to view climate change as as much of a crisis as the 2008 financial crisis or the Covid-19 crisis we’re facing now, because when faced with situations like those, the government does what’s necessary to pay for the recovery.

Ginny Johnson

I love that the Solutions Project focuses on finding the specific combination of solutions that will fit for each different country/state/city. It perfectly captures part of what John Oliver was talking about in his Green New Deal video: there is no one solution that will solve climate change, it will take a combination of solutions, each solving part of the problem, to come together to make noticeable changes.
Being a West Virginian, I also really appreciated how they counted the jobs these solutions would generate. A common WV fear regarding the renewable energy revolution is that there will be a boom of temporary jobs that will go away again after a few years. We have seen this happen time and time again as coal mines open, extract all the resources they want, and close, leaving whole towns without any other employment opportunity. And as we talked about in class, no new company wants to open an office in a town with air quality made terrible by coal mining. On the Solutions Project website, however, they count only the jobs that would employ someone for forty consecutive years.
For the Prospect essays, I first looked at an Op-Art about bank switching away from banks that invest in the fossil fuels industry, most notably JP Morgan Chase. It is amazing how ingrained fossil fuels are in our economy in ways many people have no idea about (and no idea they have influence over). I’m shocked at how successful activist groups have been at getting banks to actually hear their concerns and/or closing down branches of problem banks.
I then read an article about how Americans have very little trust in the federal government (even before the current presidency) and how that will affect the willingness of people to support the Green New Deal. It was fascinating to read about how the public’s distaste for government has grown since Reagan was in office and how this creates a cognitive dissonance between the benefits people receive from the government and their perception of the government’s involvement. The author suggests that for the Green New Deal to work, the government must expand to include more scientists, planners, bureaucrats, etc. who are all competent and working toward the goal of solving climate change. This would require politicians and private citizens to accept that big government is not an evil entity, but a necessity to solve certain problems. I’m curious what this article would say if it were written now in the age of coronavirus, as the failings of a too-small government become more and more apparent and an organized, unified government more desirable.

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